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Getting Scammed-An Intern Story



Scams have infected the world at an exponential rate. Many people know someone who has been victimized by an internet scam, or at least almost were. Even those who think they are safe from scams can find themselves as victims quickly enough. For example, me!


How it happened

I am a 17-year-old, Gen Z youth who prides myself on my internet awareness, and of course, I am an intern at an internet non-profit organization. Despite all these ‘credentials’, I still fell victim to an internet scam. It all started with a simple email from my internship email. As a student, I have a school-provided email that can only accept internal mail. For some reason, I believed that my internship email was the same, so when I received an email ‘supposedly’ from my internship mentor, John Winstanley, I opened it.


Alberto,

Please reconfirm your number for the system.

-John Winstanley


After a millisecond of thought, I put in my number, to which I quickly received a text message. The message stated, “Hey Alberto, I need your help with a little side project -John Winstanley ''. Once I responded again, the scammer said “I want to give the team a nice little surprise, I was hoping you could hop over to the nearest Whole Foods to get the team gift cards to congratulate a week of work well done!” This should have been an obvious red flag, but as the scammer knew both my number, my name, my boss's name, and had texted me during a time in which I would be available I remained ignorant. It was not until about a half-hour later when I had called my father to tell him about having to go to Whole Foods, that my father raised some concerns. My father told me to shoot John a call on his personal number, just to make sure it was him. In my ignorance, I thought my father was being over-cautious.


I was very wrong.

Upon calling John, he seemed just as puzzled as I was. He had never sent that message and explained that he would never ask me to do such a thing. Suddenly all the red flags became blindingly bright! I was in shock that I had easily fallen, and almost spent so much money on a scam. The scammer knew so much information about me, and I had fallen right into his hand.


What I learned

Now as I look retrospectively at this situation, there is a big question that pops up. Was I the direct target of the scam, or was I just a cog in the scheme of scamming FortSafety? The scammer not only knew information about me but about my mentor as well! This meant there had to be some kind of knowledge about the FortSafety organization the scammer had. This goes to show that the bounds for the amount of information a scammer can get from you are limitless and they can get more through many routes.


This little story goes to show that scams can affect all of us. Even people who should have the knowledge on how to avoid them can easily become susceptible to a scammer's tricks. Upon realizing it was a scam, John and I went to report the number on the official FTC website.


Now as I look retrospectively at this situation, there is a big question that pops up. Was I the direct target of the scam, or was I just a cog in the scheme of scamming FortSafety? The scammer not only knew information about me but about my mentor as well! This meant there had to be some kind of knowledge about the FortSafety organization the scammer had. This goes to show that the bounds for the amount of information a scammer can get from you are limitless and they can get more through many routes.

We must recognize that scams on the internet are plentiful, but with the right knowledge and support we can protect ourselves from them!



Author: Alberto Garcia Vazquez


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